Ryan Photographic - Plethodontidae - Lungless salamanders

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Family Plethodontidae

According to Amphibiaweb the Plethodontidae is the largest family of salamanders with 450 species in 28 genera. The family is believed to have evolved in the Appalachian mountains and distributed widely in the New World - although some species are found in Europe south of the Alps. They live in a variety of habitats ranging from stream and cave dwellers to those which are truly arboreal.

Many lay direct development eggs which hatch into fully functioning salamanders. Although lacking lungs they are able to carry out gas exchange through their moist skin and the lining of their mouth.

Salamanders are often considered critical to ecosystems in parts of their range and can exhibit extraordinarily high biomass. Ray Semlitsch, Curators Professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri had this to say about his study: "Using the latest research methods, we calculated the population size of Southern Redback Salamanders in Ozark Forests and their value as a food source. We found that 1.88 billion salamanders inhabit one district of the Mark Twain National Forest alone, which is roughly 1,400 metric tons of biomass. For comparison, that's equivalent to the biomass found in most whitetail deer in that region!"

Apparently salamanders feed on tiny creatures such as springtails, thereby making that energy available to the predators which prey on them.


Bolitoglossa robusta Ringtail salamander

Bolitoglossa robusta

Bolitoglossa robusta Ringtail salamander, captive, Costa Rica.

Eurycea sosorum Barton Springs Salamander

Eurycea sosorum Barton Springs Salamander

SAL 7799 Eurycea sosorum, Barton Springs Salamander. Captive.

Tylatotriton kwiechowensis crocodile newt

Tylatotriton kwiechowensis crocodile newt

Tylatotriton kwiechowensis crocodile newt 1. Captive

Tylatotriton kwiechowensis crocodile newt

Tylatotriton kwiechowensis crocodile newt 2.






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